Conquering Campfire Cooking

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Camping season is here! This is the time of the year meant for cricket lullabies and songbird alarms.

Around the campfire are where some of the best summer memories – and deliciously smokey burgers, on a perfect Aunt Millie’s bun– are made. When you cook a burger, hot dog, or really anything over an open fire you’re not just preparing something to eat, you’re inviting everyone to get involved in an activity.

Below are some tips and tricks on how to master the art of open flame cooking.

Identifying the Right Wood

Dry wood is best for cooking over a campfire. If there has been recent rain, starting a fire may be difficult. Wood tends to hold a lot of moisture, so trying to light a wet log may prove ineffective. If that is the case, you may need to purchase starter wood. However, if conditions are dry and you will be foraging for your own firewood, hardwoods like oak, ash, hickory, and hard maple are going to serve you well. Softwoods, such as pine, cedar, and spruce are best avoided. These types of wood yield too much smoke and overpower the flavor of food.

Building the Fire

When you're building your fire allow the flame to sizzle down to about an inch or two high. You should see an orange glow of embers as a good indication that the fire is ready for cooking. If your flame is too high, you run the risk of charring and burning your food.

When cooking hamburgers over an open fire, you're going to need some kind of grate to support the meat. A spit or stick will not work with ground meat and can cause quite the mess. Many campsites already have a built-in adjustable grate system, but it's wise to come prepared with your own as that's not a guarantee.

Choosing Your Hamburger

Purchase hamburger meat with a higher percentage of fat. Sometimes this makes people nervous because it doesn’t sound as healthy, but a staggering amount of fat will cook off in the fire. Meat that is too lean can result in a dry and flavorless hamburger. For a juicier and more fulfilling burger, consider purchasing ground beef and forming them into shape by hand rather than buying prepared patties.

Choosing the Right Bun

Of course, to top off the perfect burger you'll need the perfect bun – Aunt Millie's, of course. Clicking on the coupon below will save you money on your next package of buns! The recipe included in this post calls for Aunt Millie’s Hearth Classic White Hamburger Buns.

Cooking and Checking Temperature

Gathering wood, building a fire, and the actual cooking is a fun, yet lengthy, process. Cooking over an open fire will likely take longer than cooking at home, so it's important to keep that in mind if you have little ones who may get cranky when they're hungry. Having snacks on hand as an appetizer is a great solution to keep everyone satiated.

Do not cut or poke the hamburger to check the temperature. If you must, use a timer and allow your burger to cook on one side between 5-7 minutes, flip and cook on the other side for another 5-7 minutes. A meat thermometer will be your magic tool to ensure it's cooked to your preference. The USDA Food Safety Inspection Service suggests a minimum internal temperature of 160 degrees (Fahrenheit) for ground beef. Ground turkey should have a minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees.

Staying Safe

Keeping fire safety in mind is crucial. Remember to keep a close eye on small children and to mind the flames. When you're done always make sure that the fire is completely extinguished to prevent any accidents.

Eating something different?

Chances are that you’ll be packing snacks for a camping trip - and perhaps you have some chips on hand. This French Onion Burger with Chips is a fun and flavorful burger that the kids will surely love. It’s crunchy, cheesy, and flavorful.